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Making Philosophic Ideas Visible: Connecting the Age of Enlightenment and the French Revolution

Author: Alexander de Arana


William W. Bodine High School for International Affairs

Year: 2018

Seminar: Philosophy, Science & Society

Grade Level: 10

Keywords: Age of Enlightenment, Critical thinking, Foundations of Government, French Revolution, Political thought, Social Contract, social studies

School Subject(s): History, Political Science, Social Studies

This curriculum unit focuses on the connection between philosophical works of the Age of Enlightenment and the origins of the French Revolution.  By examining how philosophical ideas in historically rooted primary and secondary sources, high school students build reading, writing, debating, and critical thinking skills during the lessons and activities of this unit plan.  Not only does this unit focus on the origins of the French Revolution, but its grounding in philosophical ideas about the foundations of different types of government can be easily transferred to other historical events such as the American Revolutionary War.  This unit is designed to be approximately four weeks long.  Students will conduct class discussions, work with primary sources, and ultimately participate in a mock trial of a monarch in order to demonstrate their understanding of how modern-day governments are rooted in philosophical ideas that come from Enlightenment thinkers.


Download Unit: 18.04.01.pdf

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Full Unit Text

This four-week unit plan is designed for high school history and government classes at William W. Bodine High School for International Affairs.  Bodine High School is a magnet high school in the School District of Philadelphia located in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia.  Bodine serves roughly 500 students and selects students based off of middle school grades, attendance, disciplinary records, and state test scores.  All students qualify for free or reduced priced lunch.  The school operates on a seven period schedule.  Students attend six periods a day with 53 minute classes.  Bodine offers Advanced Placement courses and International Baccalaureate courses to its upperclassmen.  This unit is taught to ninth grade World History and twelfth grade Social Science (a course that focuses on government and economics) students but can be used for AP and IB courses as well as for tenth and eleventh grade students.

Laws are often presented to students as a set of cold, hard set of rules that can help to inform an objective truth about the necessary and proper consequences to human behaviors.  In my experience, the nature of how history, government, and politics is taught as a set of chronological and factual based dates and times of major events does not allow for students to challenge the perception that modern society has of history, government, and politics.  I have found that students find difficulty in understanding where the origins of law and political ideology come from because of this pedagogy.

I see this with ninth grade students in my World History classes and with my twelfth grade Social Science students.  Students often judge laws, punishments, and ideologies as right versus wrong but when asked about the origin and distinction between what is considered the correct belief and what is considered an incorrect belief, students are often unable to trace their opinion to a particular moment in time or philosophical foundation.  In developing this curriculum unit, I aim to challenge students to ground their ideas of history, government, and politics as in philosophical debates over questions of ethics and power.

The students in my classroom generally can make sense of why governments and laws exist – as instruments to create organize the masses.  I believe this is one entry point into the conversation of this unit plan.  While students are able to identify the purpose of the rule of law and the role of government, I wish to push students further into thinking about which groups hold power in governments, how they come to use power, how their ideologies are used to influence societal beliefs and practices, and perhaps most importantly, where their power is derived from.

In both my World History and Social Science class, students learn about the origins of contemporary forms of government.  In World History, they learn about Ancient Greece and democratic forms of government while also studying Ancient Rome and republican forms of government.  Both my World History and Social Science classes learn about monarchical governments by studying a variety of empires and kingdoms from around the world.  Students are very quick to point out that the more democratic a system of government is, the fairer it is.  However, their concept of fair is largely influenced by today’s context where they have benefited from the public education system, healthcare programs, and public transportation infrastructure.  While students seem very aware of the benefits of a democratic and republican form of government, they often fail to see the historical struggle that brought nations that rely on these forms of government to their contemporary states.  Students must learn to debate the philosophical questions that I aim to surface during this unit in order to see the tension that existed and currently exists around the world today between which groups of people should wield power and which rights are distributed to members of a society in various forms of government.

Students will engage with various philosophical ideas while also reading primary and secondary sources from the Age of Enlightenment.  In order to ground these complex ideas of political ideology, ethics, and government, students will learn about the Age of Enlightenment by examining the French Revolution.  One benefit of learning about the French Revolution allows for this unit’s content to be easily transferrable to the origins of the American Revolutionary War.  Students will compare and contrast readings from different religious and monarchical leaders and institutions such as Hammurabi and King Louis XVI in order to understand the importance of the rule of law and the role of government from their perspectives.  These documents will then be compared with textual works from scientific and political philosophers such as Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès and Maximilian Robespierre.  Lastly, each side in this debate will be rooted in works that question what type of government should be allowed in different contexts by reading textual sources from political philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.  Through these readings, students will be pressed to determine which people, groups, or institutions hold power, which people claim to hold truth, and how these entities provide suggestions and/or solutions as to how society should behave, be organized, and act based on political, ethical, and governmental values that are rooted in philosophy and history.

Below is a list of standards written by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Education.  These standards will be used as a guideline to allow students to think about the origins of different types of governments and what our roles as citizens should be within these governments.

  • Standard – 8.4.9.A: Compare the role groups and individuals played in the social, political, cultural, and economicdevelopment throughout world history.
  • Standard – 8.1.9.B: Compare the interpretation of historical events and sources, considering the use of fact versus opinion, multiple perspectives, and cause and effect relationships.
  • Standard – 5.2.9.A: Contrast the rights and responsibilities of a citizen in a democracywith a citizen in an authoritarian system.
  • Standard – 5.2.9.B: Analyze strategies used to resolve conflicts in society and
  • Standard – 5.1.9.B: Analyze the major arguments advanced for different systems of
  • Standard – 5.1.9.A: Apply examples of the rule of lawas related to individual rights and the common good.

By studying philosophy, politics, government, and history, students will develop critical thinking skills and learn to construct a verbal and written argument using textual evidence.  These skills allow students to improve their reading and writing skills while also developing their ability to think logically and form a persuasive and evidence-based argument.  By learning these skills, students will able to apply these concepts throughout periods of time in order to better understand the past.  Lastly, because students will be studying history by making oral and written arguments, they will be able to interpret and make sense of the present state of contemporary governments and nation states.


The Age of Enlightenment gave rise to the foundations of contemporary government.  Works published by philosophers challenged monarchical and religious leaders and powers that ruled the European continent.  These published works gave rise to philosophical principles that provided a foundation for contemporary democracies and republics around the world.

Students often understand the connections between our government today and the structures that were put into place by previous societies by reading historical texts.  More specifically, students have learned about the connections between contemporary American government and how the foundations of the United States’ government are rooted in historical texts such as the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution.  However, students struggle to understand how these historical documents were based in philosophical works, largely influenced by Europeans.  This unit aims to explore the connections between individual philosophical works and how the nature in which they were published (i.e. use of taverns, the printing press, coffee shops, etc.) led to and how the philosophers during the Age of Enlightenment clashed with monarchical and religious leaders in Europe.

To understand the foundations of contemporary government, students must learn how to make connections between the Age of Enlightenment and how representative governments formed after the Middle Ages in Europe.  European societies’ move towards small populations and self-sustaining societies gave rise to the Roman Catholic Church as Europe’s most political, economic, and militarily powerful state within the clergy and their partnership with dozens of kingdoms throughout Medieval Europe.  The fall of the Western Roman Empire allowed for secular leaders to establish military and political control over their surrounding territories and through these religious and political partnerships kings were able to exercise their control over the rule of law in European societies through the monarchical form of government that they led.

Secular leaders’ power during the Middle Ages in Europe often stemmed from a hybrid form of religious and military influence.  Religious and monarchical leaders and institutions were often able to hold influence over their followers and subjects in order to spread their power throughout the European continent and to overseas colonies. Leaders such as King Louis XVI relied on their religious and military power to gain followers and to maintain the distance between the aristocracy and the clergy from the masses.  For example, because European society was so religious during the Middle Ages, rulers such as the Pope communicated the word of God to their followers.  In a speech recorded by Robert of Rheims, a monk that may also have been present at Clermont, Pope Urban II stated, “And so Urban, Pope of the Roman see, with his archbishops, bishops, abbots, and priests, set out as quickly as possible beyond the mountains and began to deliver sermons and to preach eloquently, saying: ‘Whoever wishes to save his soul should not hesitate humbly to take up the way of the Lord, to save his soul should not hesitate humbly to take up the way of the Lord, and if he lacks sufficient money, divine mercy will give him enough.’”[1]

The power of their influence was often used to convert subjects, take control of natural resources, and otherwise spread their wealth and influence throughout the world.  Pope Urban II’s speech showed society’s belief in following and supporting religious and secular rulers’ decisions.  Political, military, and economic leaders often created what was considered the correct thing to do during the period of Medieval Europe.  While leaders often expressed this rhetoric in order to rule over their populations, supporters, and subjects, individuals often bought into this same form of social beliefs and values.  While leaders such as the kings and popes held significant power during the Middle Ages, the institutions they belonged to were made up of individual followers.  These individuals often exemplified society’s consensus in how they believed where power in government and statehood should come from.  In other words, secular rulers such as kings, lords, and vassals and religious rulers such as Popes, cardinals, and bishops were closest to God.  Therefore, they should be the ones ruling society.  Saint Benedict, a monk that lived during the early years of Christianity, documented his four rules of community, obedience, humility, and contemplation when he wrote, “The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience, which comes naturally to those who cherish Chris above all.  Because of the holy service they have professed, or because of dread of hell and for the glory of everlasting life, they carry out the superior’s order as promptly as if the command came from God himself.”[2] Saint Benedict shows how the structure of power before the Age of Enlightenment showed that rulers held power over their subjects as a result of their proximity to God.  To challenge this notion was to go against the Roman Catholic Church and to go against God.

Philosophers such as Denis Diderot and Jean-Jacques Rousseau during the Age of Enlightenment pit themselves against political and social rulers by empowering the masses with their concepts about the State and government. Through these readings, students will be pressed to determine which people, groups, or institutions hold power, which people claim to hold truth, and how these entities provide suggestions and/or solutions as to how society should behave, be organized, and act based on philosophical ideas.  Denis Diderot challenged this social norm with his publication of the Encyclopedia in 1751.  In it, Diderot stated, “We have seen that our Encyclopedia could only have been the endeavor of a philosophical century; that this age has dawned, and that fame, while raising to immortality the names of those who will perfect man’s knowledge in the future, will perhaps not disdain to remember our own names.”[3]  Diderot shows the Encyclopedia’s importance because of how the individual can now become self-reliant.  The individual no longer needs the State to inform them of guidance, truth, or other forms of morality.  This notion challenges monarchical and religious rulers and leads to the foundation of republic and democratic systems of government.

Further, the social contract is something many philosophers discuss in forming the best relationship between states and their subjects.  Hobbes and Locke hold two of the most famous examples of this which were used to create various declarations and constitutions across the world.  Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a philosopher that was active in France during the French Revolution published his thoughts on the social contract when he explained the nature of democracy when he wrote, “It may be seen, from the last chapter, that the way in which general business is managed may give a clear enough indication of the actual state of morals and the health of the body politic.  The more concert reigns in the assemblies, that is, the nearer opinion approaches unanimity, the greater is the dominance of the general will.  On the other hand, long debates, dissensions, and tumult proclaim the ascendancy of particular interests and the decline of the State.”[4]  Rousseau argues that all citizens in a participatory social contract must vote on issues.  In the perfect social contract, members will come to the same vote because of their awareness of the society that they live in.  This notion runs counter to how Saint Benedict and Pope Urban II view the way in which the State should rule.

Students will also study how philosophical works analyze and explore scientific ideas to examine how the relationship between the State and the masses changed over time, especially during the Age of Enlightenment.  Students will be able to study Kuhn’s theory of the cycle of science.   Kuhn explained, “Considerations relevant to the context of discovery are then relevant to justification as well; scientists who share the concerns and sensibilities of the individual who discovers a new theory are ipso facto likely to appear disproportionately frequently among that theory’s first supporters.”[5]  Kuhn explains that science goes in a cycle to what is acceptable according to society.  Kuhn explains that science cycles from normal science, to mode drift, to model crisis, to model revolution, to paradigm shift.  History can be viewed in the same light.  Or, the views society had on the social contract can be substituted for the term of science.  If students take this same concept and apply it to history, they will learn how the works published by philosophers gave rise to contemporary government structures.

Kuhn’s ideas on the theory of the cycle of science can be seen with the publication of Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès’ What Is the Third Estate? when Sieyès writes about the role that the masses should play in society and in government under the French monarch.  Sieyès wrote, “Do we not understand the consequences of monopoly? While discouraging those it excludes, does it not destroy the skill of those it favors? Are we unaware that any work from which free competition is excluded will be performed less well and more expensively? . . .”[6]  Here, Sieyès argues for the inclusion of the masses in government.  At this point in time, only members of the clergy and aristocracy were able to participate in the French government.  Originally, the idea of civic participation by the masses in government was foreign to European nations.  While radical at first, Sieyès’ idea was expressed by several political philosophers and eventually adopted through a revolution that toppled the French monarchy and ended with the adoption of a democratic form of government.

By examining documents from Medieval Europe and the Age of Enlightenment, students will ground their understanding of American and global government in philosophical debate and ideas.  Students will learn to understand how thinking changes over time and how the social contract has been viewed throughout history.  This examination of societies will allow students to develop skills that are easily transferable to viewing contemporary forms of government and the roles that public officials hold in our societies today.

[1]Robert of Rheims, The First Crusade: “The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres” and Other Source Materials., ed. Edward Peters (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988), 27.

[2] Saint Benedict, The Rule of Saint Benedict in English, ed. Timothy Fry (New York: Vintage Spiritual Classics, 1998), 14.

[3] Denis Diderot, “Encyclopedia,” in The Enlightenment: A Brief History with Documents, ed. Margaret C. Jacob (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s Macmillan Learning, 2017), 140.

[4] Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “The Social Contract,” in The Enlightenment: A Brief History with Documents, ed. Margaret C. Jacob (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s Macmillan Learning, 2017), 173.

[5] Thomas Kuhn, “Objectivity, Value Judgement, and Theory Choice,” in Metahistorical Studies.  (Greenville: Furman University, 1973), 328.

[6] Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès, What Is the Third Estate?, 2.

Objectives and Strategies

This curriculum unit focuses on the relationship between philosophical ideas about governance and the formal and structural foundations of governments.  Rooted in the Age of Enlightenment, students are pushed to create connections between major philosophical works and historical and contemporary ideas of the role government should play, which people should be given rights, and where those rights come from.  In this unit, students will engage in the philosophical foundations of government by examining the Age of Enlightenment by reading modified primary and secondary sources, imagining the world without government, identifying rights that are given and not given to groups, and role playing historical and philosophical figures.  The following objectives are listed in order to ensure that students properly understand the unit’s concepts (Note: SWBAT = Students will be able to; IOT= in order to).

  • SWBAT play and participate in the “state of nature” game IOT demonstrate Rousseau’s, Hobbes’, and Locke’s views on the social contract and the role of the State.

This activity allows students to engage in a game in which they believe they are competing against their classmates for points.  Students typically begin to grow frustrated with one another and show signs of aggression towards each other as they wish to accumulate extra credit to improve their grades.  While this may seem superficial, students are able to reflect upon their experience playing this game to understand the importance of the social contract in various philosophical works from authors such as Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau.  During this reflective discussion, students begin to understand the value of the State and they begin to question what type of role the State should take on.

  • SWBAT read and contextualize modified primary and secondary sources about major philosophers during the Age of Enlightenment IOT compare their views on the social contract, the role of the State, and the question of rights.

Bodine students tend to have a strong understanding on the rights we have.  Much of their understanding comes from their previous experience in American history courses.  Students often understand the importance the Founding Fathers played in constructing and writing major historical works such as the United States Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the United States Bill of Rights.  However, students struggle to connect these documents to their philosophical foundation.  Often times, in my experience teaching, students are unable to recognize and therefore appreciate the idea that these famous documents were rooted in philosophical ideas and arguments that were published during the Age of Enlightenment in Europe.  By reading these sources, students will understand the major authors of the Age of Enlightenment, the context of their publications, and the common form of government that these works were published under.

  • SWBAT read and discuss modified versions of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau’s state of nature works IOT evaluate the role laws and governments have over their citizenry using.

Similar to the previous objective, students are to learn how to properly read sources within their historical contexts.  This method allows students to better understand the perspective from each political philosopher.  After reading these documents, students will lead a class discussion in order to interpret each document and seek the various perspectives from their classmates.

  • SWBAT read and discuss modified versions of Hammurabi’s Code, the Declaration of the Rights of the Man and of the Citizen, and the Freedom Charter IOT evaluate the role laws and governments have over their citizenry using.

Now that students have been exposed to different philosophical works and have actively imagined what the state of nature may look like, students can begin to apply these concepts to rights and laws.  Students examine laws throughout history to understand what type of role the State played in each society.  As students learn about different moments in time, they are able to study how the idea of rights begin to change because of the Age of Enlightenment.

  • SWBAT interpret and dramatize the economic behaviors of the French monarchy IOT produce a political cartoon that expresses the National Assembly’s perception of the state of France.

After students have successfully read and verbally expressed their perceptions of different laws and documents and their relationship with the Age of Enlightenment and French Revolution, students must prove their understanding of the events of the French Revolution by designing their own political cartoon.  This activity not only draws on the important ideas such as the social contract and the state of nature, but it also asks students to question the role that images play in a society in which literacy levels are low.  Through this lesson, students are able to see how democratic principles are manifested into things such as the printing press, translation of languages, and the use of images to inform citizens all while judging the French government.

  • SWBAT create a jigsaw reading activity IOT teach their classmates the content of the Storming of the Bastille and the Reign of Terror.

As students progress through this unit, they begin to learn about the events that unfolded which led to a regime change in nineteenth century France.  In order to demonstrate their understanding of these events, students must teach their classmates about the Storming of the Bastille and the rise of the Reign of Terror through different perspectives.  Each group will represent a participant in the French Revolution.  This way, the class will be able to analyze the unfolding of events through different lenses.  Students will be required to consider the philosophical ideas behind each perspective to ensure students are able to apply the readings that they have previously discussed.

  • SWBAT successfully take a quiz IOT recall and identify the timeline of events, major players, and historical moments of the French Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment.

Students must be able to differentiate between the different philosophers and their ideas.  To ensure that students can identify these differences, they will take a short quiz.  Additionally, many of these concepts still may seem theoretical despite working with publications from the Age of Enlightenment and laws throughout different periods of history.  To ground this unit further, students will learn about the French Revolution and the tension between a monarchical form of government and a new democratic and republican view of the State.

  • SWBAT role play a public hearing between a secular/monarchical/religious leader and a commoner/philosopher IOT express the views of different philosophical positions on the role of the State within the context of the French Revolution.

Students will be assigned a role in a public hearing between two parties in the French Revolution.  They will be asked to debate their positions in a mock public trial.  This allows students to apply the core principles of the unit and demonstrate their understanding of it by synthesizing the information with their classmates.

  • SWBAT compare the role of the State throughout time and the various interpretations that were held among those in power and among those that were disenfranchised IOT understand the ideology of what government’s role in society should be today.

While this objective does not fit directly into this unit, it will be an underlying objective for future units in my ninth grade World History course, twelfth grade Social Science course, and eleventh grade International Baccalaureate History of the Americas course.  This unit will be taught early in the year and will allow students to continue to draw on the importance of the Age of Enlightenment in how governments are constructed and act today.

Lesson Plans and Activities

This unit is constructed with philosophical texts.  Because of this, the main way of getting students to engage and participate in the unit’s activities will be by reading, analyzing, and discussing historical texts.  Students will focus on the the typical forms of government in Western Europe during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries and the ability that those in positions of power had.  In contrast, students will read philosophical works written by contributors of the Age of Enlightenment to understand the rise of democracy, republicanism, and liberalism and their relationships in how these ideologies and constructions gave rights to new populations.

Lesson One

(Duration: 1 day)


SWBAT play and participate in the “state of nature” game IOT demonstrate Rousseau’s, Hobbes’, and Locke’s views on the social contract and the role of the State.


Describe what the environment of Bodine High School would be if there were no rules to follow or punishments that were given by faculty and staff members.

Guided Practice:

Explain to students the concept of the state of nature.  Introduce students to Thomas Hobbes and John Locke and the circumstances that each political philosopher lived under when writing and publishing their works.  Ask students to hypothesize how humans would behave if there was no government.  Students must respond in a paragraph in their notes.  Cornell Notes on the Age of Enlightenment and political philosophers.

Independent Practice:

In this activity, students will play the state of nature game.  In it, students will compete for extra credit points on their most heavily weighted grading category.  The game is divided into three rounds.

Exit Ticket:

Answer the do-now question again.  Did your answer change or stay the same?  Explain your reasoning.

Lesson Two

(Duration: 2-3 days)


SWBAT read and contextualize modified primary and secondary sources about major philosophers during the Age of Enlightenment IOT compare their views on the social contract, the role of the State, and the question of rights.


How do your surroundings influence your perspective?

Guided Practice:

Introduce students to the concepts of sourcing and contextualizing historical texts.  Together, source and contextualize different perspectives from a lunchroom fight.  One excerpt must be from a student, another, from a by standing student, a lunchroom worker, a custodial member, and the principal.  Give a brief background lecture on Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau and students must take Cornell Notes.

Independent Practice:

Next, give three excerpt readings from Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau on their views of humans’ state of nature.  Using these modified historical texts, students must source and contextualize each modified reading.

Lesson Three

(Duration: 1 day)


SWBAT read and discuss modified versions of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau’s state of nature works IOT evaluate the role laws and governments have over their citizenry using.


What purpose do rules serve?  Are rules good or bad?  Evaluate Bodine High School’s uniform policy.  What are the advantages and disadvantages of having this rule in place?

Guided Practice:

Ask students to prepare notes on a class discussion of the state of nature according to the authors they read.  Remind students to review their sourcing and contextualization notes.  Ask students the central historical question: How much control does government have the right to and why?  Challenge students to answer this question in a class discussion using the documents they read.

Independent Practice:

With guided questions, have students discuss the readings and attempt to answer the CHQ as a class.  Students are responsible for submitting a script of the discussion.  Give students three discussion rules to abide by during this discussion:

  1. Listen carefully and actively to what others are saying even when you disagree with what is being said.
  2. Support your statements by using evidence to provide rationale for your points.
  3. Build on one another’s comments; build towards a common understanding.

Exit Ticket:

In a paragraph in your Cornell Notes, attempt to answer the CHQ.  Provide two examples from the class discussion that intrigued you or influence your opinion.

[Please refer to PDF attached above for additional lesson plans & appendices]


Diderot, Diderot.  “Encyclopedia.”  In The Enlightenment: A Brief History with Documents, edited by Margaret C. Jacob, 140.  Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s Macmillan Learning, 2017.

Kuhn, Thomas.  “Objectivity, Value Judgement, and Theory Choice.”  In Metahistorical Studies, 328.  Greenville: Furman University, 1973.

Robert of Rheims. The First Crusade:” The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres” and Other Source Materials, Edited by Edward Peters.  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques.  “The Social Contract.”  In The Enlightenment: A Brief History with Documents, edited by Margaret C. Jacob, 173.  Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s Macmillan Learning, 2017.

Saint Benedict, The Rule of Saint Benedict in English, Edited by Timothy Fry.  New York: Vintage Spiritual Classics, 1998.

Sieyès, Emmanuel-Joseph.  What Is the Third Estate? 2.  1789.

Resources for Teachers

Burton, Ashli.  Teaching with Primary Sources – Middle Tennessee State University–French_Revolution.pdf

French Revolution Gallery Walk in Kipp Memphis Collegiate High School.

“The French Revolution: How did the British react to July 1789?” in The National Archives Education Service

Friend, Celeste.  Social Contract Theory in Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: A Peer-Reviewed Academic Resource

“Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau on Government” in Constitutional Rights Foundation: Bill of Rights in Action.  2004.

iCivics.  Why Government?

Kreis, Steven.  “The Decree of August 4, 1789” in The History Guide: Lectures on Modern European Intellectual History. May 13, 2004.

Llewellyn, Jennifer and Thompson, Steve.  “The Tennis Court Oath” in Alpha History.

Thrasymakos.  “The Hobbes Game – FUN FUN FUN Game for Social Studies Classes” in An Educator’s 4th of July’s Thoughts.  July 12, 2013.


The following standards are made available at  Content Standards: Pennsylvania Standards: Civics & Government and History: Grades 9-12.

  • Standard – 5.1.9.A: Apply examples of the rule of lawas related to individual rights and the common good.
  • Standard – 5.1.9.B: Analyze the major arguments advanced for different systems of
  • Standard – 5.1.12.A: Analyze the sources, purposes, functions of law, and how the rule of law protects individual rightsand promotes the common good.
  • Standard – 5.1.12.B: Employ historical examples and political philosophyto evaluate the major arguments advanced for the necessity of
  • Standard – 5.1.12.C: Evaluate the application of the principles and ideals in contemporary civic life.
    • Liberty / Freedom 
    • Democracy 
    • Justice 
    • Equality
  • Standard – 5.2.9.A: Contrast the rights and responsibilities of a citizen in a democracywith a citizen in an authoritarian system
  • Standard – 5.2.9.B: Analyze strategies used to resolve conflicts in society and
  • Standard – 5.2.9.D: Analyze citizens’roles in the political process toward the attainment of goals for individual and public good.
  • Standard – 5.2.12.A: Evaluate an individual’s civil rights, responsibilities and obligations in various contemporary
  • Standard – 5.2.12.B: Examine the causes of conflicts in society and evaluate techniques to address those conflicts.
  • Standard – 5.3.9.H: Evaluate the importance of freedom of the press and the political influence of mass media.
  • Standard – 5.3.12.H: Evaluate the role of mass mediain setting public agenda and influencing political life.
  • Standard – 8.1.9.A: Compare patterns of continuity and change over time, applying context of events.
  • Standard – 8.1.9.B: Compare the interpretation of historical events and sources, considering the use of fact versus opinion, multiple perspectives, and cause and effect relationships.